Defense lifts Oak Hill past Ada for a spot in the D-IV title game

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Oak Hill guard Kyle Ondera dropped 20 points in the D-IV state semifinal win over Ada (Photo by Gary Housteau)

One week after the Oak Hill girls basketball team advanced to the Division III state championship game, the boys team locked up a berth in the Division IV title game knocking off Ada 55-46 Thursday in the 87th Annual State Boys Basketball Tournament at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.


COLUMBUS – It’s like déjà vu all over again.

One week after the Oak Hill girls basketball team advanced to the Division III state championship game, the boys team locked up a berth in the Division IV title game knocking off Ada 55-46 Thursday in the 87th Annual State Boys Basketball Tournament at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.

Oak Hill (24-2) shot a blazing 52.9 percent from the field and locked down Ada’s offense to notch the win.

“We challenged our kids,” Oak Hill head coach Norm Persin said. “Ada is one excellent basketball team. They are very well-prepared and very well-coached.

“We told our kids we have to be the best defensive team on the floor and I think everyone that witnessed the game tonight knows we are an excellent defensive team..”

Junior guard Kyle Ondera led all stat-getters with 20 points while senior center Cody Cannon added 11 points filling in for J.D. Hale, who got in foul trouble. Hale chipped in eight points and pulled down four rebounds.

“I shot it well from the free throw line and I think that was the main thing,” Ondera said. “When it is a close game like this, free throws (are) what win games. When I started to get into the game a little bit I got the confidence to handle the ball well, hit open guys and knock down some free throws.”

The scored was knotted 9-9 after the first quarter but Ada scored just four points in the second frame as Oak Hill went on a 9-0 run to close out the half taking a 23-13 lead into the break.

“I think it all starts on the defensive end and rebounding,” Persin said. “We were giving Ada one shot and out and if you give Ada more than one shot, you’re in trouble.”

Oak Hill out-rebounded Ada 14-9 in the first half but each had 24 for the game.

“They went on a run in the second quarter and it seemed like there was a lid on the basket and that was the difference in the game,” Ada head coach Chris Sautter. “That second quarter really seemed to be the difference.”

Ada (22-4) shot 36.4 percent from the field and was just 4-of-18 from three-point range.

“On the offensive end, it seemed like we just couldn’t buy a bucket,” said Sautter. “We’ve been shooting the ball well from (three-point range). I think we took some good shots out there tonight but they didn’t fall for whatever reason.”

Ada was led by senior forward Aaron Cross with 19 points but went 3-of-11 from beyond the arc.

The Bulldogs pulled within six points in the third quarter and again in the fourth quarter but were unable to get over the hump.

“We just couldn’t get going and by the time we did it was too late,” Sautter said. “It just seemed like we never had control but (Oak Hill) was always in control with what was going on.”

Ada’s leading scorer Mitchell Faine had only seven points fouling out early in the fourth quarter.

“He has been in foul trouble before,” Sautter said. “It is not really something he is prone to and for him to get in foul trouble and not be able to get going offensively, that definitely hurts when one of your leading scorers is on the bench.”

Oak Hill will play Kalida Saturday at 10:45 a.m. for the Division IV state championship.

Kalida head coach Dick Kortokrax is the all-time leader for coaching wins in OHSAA history.

“He is tremendous coach and Kalida is one of the premier basketball situations in the state,” Persin said. “It will be a total honor to coach against him Saturday.

“It really will.”

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